The Los Angeles Dodgers were dealt some bad news on Tuesday when it was learned their closer Kenley Jansen will be out 8-12 weeks.
L.A. is lucky this is happening now, because what this means is Jansen will likely miss just the first two months of the regular season. But in the meantime, the Dodgers are going to have some decisions to make in the bullpen.
Last year, Jansen piled up 44 saves for the Dodgers with an ERA of 2.76, a FIP of 1.91 and an fWAR of 2.0, averaging 13.9 K/9, 4th-best in Major League Baseball among pitchers with at least 50 IP.
While missing the first two months of the season gets Jansen back in the closer's role by late May/early June, the Dodgers can't afford to fall behind the improved San Diego Padres and world champion San Francisco Giants. So, if they don't believe a replacement is there in-house (and trust me, it isn't), then the team has to look outside for help.
Of course, they could just sign free agent Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year deal, although reports are K-Rod is seeking a $10 million contract. Or, they could trade for the Phils' Jonathan Papelbon. Here's how the two relievers stack up.
K-Rod is one year younger, could probably be gotten on a one-year deal, and would not require player compensation in order to land his services.
Papelbon, meanwhile, would probably need his option year for 2016 to be picked up, making him a two-year player. He also would earn quite a large salary, although if the Phillies eat enough money, he could cost half as much as Rodriguez.
If L.A. truly just wants a stopgap, Rodriguez is probably the choice. But if they're hedging their bets on Jansen and wants the better reliever, then Papelbon is the guy.
But this should also serve as a reminder to all the nay-bobs who think the Phillies weren't proactive enough during the off-season in trading away their veterans. The Jansen injury isn't the last one we're going to see this spring. By being patient, the Phillies now have another team with whom they could engage in conversation about their closer.
Perhaps the Dodgers have already been in touch with the Phils about Papelbon, as noted by The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo on Sunday.
The Phillies feel there’s still an opportunity to deal Papelbon, even though the Brewers scenario hasn’t unfolded as they thought. The Phillies want the Brewers to take care of the option year but still want a top prospect in return. But there may be a mystery team out there kicking the tires. Papelbon can still get people out even with a diminished fastball.
With spring training in Clearwater just days away, it'll be interesting to see if Papelbon will be with the team in Clearwater. He's expected to speak to the media this week, so, get yo' popcorn ready.